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What use is a Dandie Dinmont Terrier?

Updated: Jul 16


An other living ‘thing’ close to my heart, or feet, or where ever there maybe food and attention if it comes to that. Timing is everything they say. And this year marks the 250 anniversary of the painting by T. Gainsborough of a titled gentleman with a DANDIE DINMONT TERRIER, the first recorded image of Scotland’s oldest terrier breed. They are one of the few dogs that have changed little over the years. Mainly as they fell out of fashion, thankfully in one way. They did not become victims of over breeding or exaggerated physical features. But the downside is that they have become so rare that they are in danger of disappearing altogether. Despite the fact they were immortalised in paintings and played a hand or paw in this case, to the development of Scotland’s own collection of works of art. I mean I couldn’t see the National Galleries of Scotland agreeing in this day and age to hang a painting of Callum the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, so that they could get their hands on a large bequest. Yet Callum’s painting still hangs there today for all to see. What would make an owner do that and more importantly why would the Scottish Galleries of Scotland agree to that? Maybe it is the creative way they were named that jumped started their almost ridiculous list of achievements! They were known as Mustards and Peppers originally, then along came Sir Walter Scott and his novel, Guy Mannering. A character in his book was called Dandie Dinmont who happened to own Mustards and Peppers. Before you could blink the name Dandie Dinmont was supplanted onto the dogs with the addition of the word terrier and has stayed there ever since. Then there is the tartan created for them and lets not forget the whisky as well. And what about that modern wonder of Facebook where Olive McDinmont regularly speaks in her strong Scots tongue on anything that she likes or dislikes! Yes a real live talking Dandie with a large following. If that concept scares you, try reading the children’s picture book, Mustard and Pepper written by the gentleman who used to narrate the Edinburgh military tattoo who teamed up with an illustrator to create this story. It is amazing how far a turfed head, wee stumpy legs, a bark larger than it should have and a very waggy tail can get you in life. This is just a wee dug for goodness sake, not one of those amazing hero dogs that rescues people from collapsed buildings or rugged mountain sides. Well they couldn’t really as when a Dandie is out in the snow its legs become totally snowball bound. There is nothing quite like picking up a freezing snowball encrusted Dandie, breaking up the ice and snow till your fingers are screaming out in pain to watch said Dandie Dinmont chase after a snow free husky rather that use the cleared path; resulting in yet an other slow de-ice. It’s not even as if the Dandie helps you with difficult tasks or overcomes everyday challenges you may face on a daily basis. No, this small dog with the large background has used the last 250 years to perfect the use of its rather Disney like brown eyes. For pleading it is dying of hunger when it has just eaten as it spots that you might have something tasty in your hands. For ‘it waz nae me look’ when quite frankly the large hole in the garden wasn’t dug itself and how else did the Dandie Dinmont get covered from head to toe in thick gloopy mud. For ‘I’m only a wee dug and I need love’ as said dirty smelly dog then jumps onto your lap. These looks have all been honed not for the humans benefit but very much for its own benefit. What is worse is that we humans fall for it every time as she is only a wee dog after all. A companion, a side kick, a dog that keeps wondering why I continually ask have you seen her? When she is right there beside the coffee table, only she is so small I can’t see her. So nothing special about her at all. So why have I included one in my next Blàs of the Highlands book then? Why did I write all those short stories in the Dandie Dialogue over the years. Why does the Dandie Dinmont Terrier have such a power to make us paint, write, drink and clothe ourselves in it’s colours. Quite frankly I have no idea. Well apart from the fact she is a dog and more importantly, she is our dog, therefore as special as any dog could be.

For more information on the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, check out;

The Caledonian Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club https://www.caledoniandandies.com

or

Facebook Caledonian Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club

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© 2020 by Ceitidh Hutton